Harley smokes, Batman – it's an all-American scrambler

For most people embarking on a custom-build scrambler project, starting with a British or Italian bike would be the default choice. But not so for American workshop Benjie’s Café Racers, which chose a 1999 Harley Davidson 883 Sportster as a basis...

For almost five years, the tired old Sportster sat in the corner of BCR’s New Jersey workshop, its fate undecided. Eventually, after toying with the idea of converting it to a café racer or a bobber, the Harley’s destiny was decided. “We want all our builds to be different, and with this being our first Harley build, we really wanted to emphasise that,” says Benjie. “We wanted to make this old cruiser something that could be ridden everywhere. It was this spark of realisation that ignited our pondering minds, and through the fire came the American Scrambler.”

From Sportster to Scrambler

On went the upside-down forks from a Suzuki GSXR1000 to lower the front end, with longer rear shocks and raised shock mounts following soon afterwards to raise the rear end – thus giving the Harley the familiar scrambler stance. The Speedster was then equipped with Borrani wire wheels shod with dual-purpose tyres, and a tank that followed the lines of the V-Twin motor was fashioned in aluminium, with an off-centre Monza fuel cap and stainless-steel rack added for detail. After adding a curved tail section and a ‘two-into-two’ custom exhaust with high-mounted mufflers, the final details were added – our favourite of which is the saddle-bag upholstered in the same cowhide as the seat.

“We set out to build a bike that was realistic and functional, but more importantly we built a bike that was fun,” Benjie summarises. We’re sure the Harley-based American Scrambler fits the brief just as well as its European cousins.

Photos: Ben Chan

You can find Harley Davidsons and other classic motorcycles for sale in the Classic Driver Market.